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Study Suggests Patients Who Use Cannabis Respond To Anesthesia Differently

AURORA, Colo. (CBS4) - Colorado is leading the way in all things marijuana, including the impact it can have in the operating room. A study published earlier this year suggests patients who use cannabis respond to anesthesia differently.

Marijuana Generic Smoking Pot
(credit: MARTIN BERNETTI/AFP/Getty Images)

While she did not play a role in the study, Dr. Joy Hawkins, a professor of Anesthesiology at the University Of Colorado School Of Medicine at the Anschutz Medical Campus says she has seen similar responses.

"We are very willing to adapt to make the procedure safe for the patient, but this has added another little twist to the things we think about and ask about," Hawkins said.

Hawkins is among several Colorado doctors making changes to anesthetic plans for her patients who use marijuana.

"It's that we have to use more and any medication we use has its own side effects," she said.

joy hawkins
(credit: CBS)

A small-scale study conducted in Colorado showed regular cannabis users may need twice the level of sedation.

"There's an underlying feeling that these patients are perhaps more tolerant to some of the drugs we use and a bit of research it's finally starting to bear that out," Dr. Hawkins said.

Hawkins says more research is needed and that if federal dollars were allowed to fund it, Colorado would make the perfect lab. After years of legalization more people are willing to share information about their use.

"We have definitely seen a difference and I do think the stigma is gone, so it is good on the one hand because we have that info," she said.

For a look at the study in its entirety, visit a section of the American Osteopathic Association website.

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